Victim Esther Baker speaks out over vile abusers
By day she attended a private school, practised the piano and cello, and went to church on Sundays.
By night she was taken to open land in the Midlands to suffer the most vile abuse.
To the outside world, even to her mother, she appeared to enjoy a normal happy childhood but the truth was very different.
This week Esther Baker waived her right to anonymity to speak out about the ritual sexual violation she suffered as a child growing up in a decent, religious, middle-class home in the region.
Today, in an exclusive interview with the Star, she talks about the effect the regular assaults in the 1980s and 90s have had on her life. Esther, who has family in Shropshire, says she became an alcoholic, attempted suicide several times and has continued to fall victim to abusers. She says she has spent her life on the run, trying to escape them.
Esther was about six when the abuse started. She was taken to Cannock Chase and to other people's homes where she was regularly raped, along with other children, always at night when her mother, a nurse now living in Shropshire, was at work.
She said: "My mother worked night shifts so she never even knew I'd left the house. I was always told not to tell anyone and, if I did, that she would be hurt.
"I was really close to my mother so I wasn't going to say anything. I dissociated myself from that little girl."
Esther's allegations are all the more shocking because she lists a politician and two police officers among her abusers. The policemen, occasionally in uniform, would act as look-outs as the assaults took place, and sometimes joined in, she claimed.
She believes a lord and a judge were also involved because their titles would be mentioned while the attacks were taking place.
"I was brought up in a religious household and I thought they were on God's authority," said Esther.
She was about 11 when the group abuse stopped. Then, after a few years, the grooming began again, with different people involved. All the while the bright student forged ahead with her school work and displayed a musical talent, playing the cello and violin and achieving grade six in piano, and putting on shows for her mother at the family's home, which was then in Lichfield.
She attended Hydesville Tower School, a fee-paying independent for three to 16-year-olds in Walsall, and went on to Nottingham University to study sociology.
She said: "Uni was supposed to be the big escape but it didn't turn out that way. I think the memories started to take over."
Her drinking degenerated into a vodka addiction when she would sometimes down half a bottle at a time. Eventually she went on a detox programme.
Esther, now 32, fled Nottingham for Rotherham before ending up in Liverpool where she has now settled and manages a betting shop. She has been greatly helped by counsellors at the city's Lantern Project and enjoys breaks visiting her mother at her home in Shropshire.
She broke her silence when she gave evidence to the national child abuse inquiry, but said she lost confidence in the investigation and decided instead to go to the police in her quest for justice.
She is urging other victims of the alleged Cannock Chase paedophile ring to come forward to help her piece together the parts of her past that she has blocked out, either by contacting Staffordshire Police, who have launched an investigation into her claims, or the Lantern Project.
One of the hardest parts about going public about her years of abuse was first telling her mother, who remarried when Esther was 14 and then relocated to Shropshire.
Esther says: "She only found out a month ago. She's still very much in shock."
She adds: "I always thought I'd carry this secret with me all my life. So I feel as though I've taken back a bit of control by making the decision to speak out."
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